Johnson’s decision to brief ministers on a Sunday is a rare move and comes as some northern English leaders have expressed anger at what they see as a lack of consultation and a determination in Whitehall to push through restrictions in their areas without offering the support needed to deal with them.

The prime minister is set to detail the new system, with measures expected to force pubs and restaurants to shut across much of the north of England and see millions of people banned from mixing indoors and outdoors.

Reports suggest the top tier will see no household mixing allowed either, which could affect millions of people living in areas with high Covid-19 rates across England.

The empathy and community spirit created in the early days of the lockdown risks being destroyed by a backlash of declining trust in politicians and the government’s handling of the crisis, according to a Labour MP.

Jess Phillips has warned that the country would become more divided, saying:

“I’m afraid to say that the way that it has been handled, the fact that there is trust is an incredibly low bar with those who are in charge, whether it’s public health, whether it’s the economy, whatever it is.

Trust has been actually worsened and degraded throughout the process that I actually think, I’m afraid to say, that you could sweep away the good community element of the beginning of it.”

Phillips, who was speaking at an event at the Cheltenham Literature Festival about transforming society in a post-Covid world, said she expected to see “very, very, very hard and divisive times”.

“What worries me is that we’re about to see a downturn in the economy that is largely, partially unprecedented, but partially poor management and years of poor management that has meant that we haven’t … we didn’t mind the gap.

And there is a growing gap that some people are going to fall into.

Instead of taking that on the chin and facing it down, like with the EU, like with the people in the boats, the government will allow it to become somebody else’s fault.

In places, like where I live, where we live in a local lockdown, very early on in places like Blackburn, in Oldham, it was very, very completely wrongly suggested that the virus was being largely spread by the Asian community.

Before too long when we go into further lockdowns in places like London and in places like Chelmsford, where they’re going to think Asian people in Oldham are the reason that their businesses going under and the government will allow them to think it.

We should all watch out for it now. This is the backlash that is coming. Spot it when it arrives and ignore it because it is not true.”

The Guardian

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